One of the world's top startup accelerator programs will launch in Australia after the Turnbull Government announced a $280,000 deal as part of its $1.1 billion National Innovation and Science Agenda.
MassChallenge, a US-based not-for-profit organisation which offers a four-month program to help startups develop and grow internationally, will run a bridge program in Australia in 2016 which includes a national startup competition, a startup boot camp, leader training and branding, PR and community development.
Depending on how the bridge program performs, there is a view to launch a full program here in 2017.
MassChallenge has permanent programs in the US, UK, Mexico, Israel and Switzerland with funding partners on the ground, and will partner with the Australian Government and Microsoft for its Australian operations based in Adelaide.
Aussie startups have already received a leg-up via MassChallenge, including Maker's Empire which offers 3D design software for students. Three of Maker's Empire's founders completed the MassChallenge accelerator in Boston last year and the company's software is now used in more than 100 Australia schools as well as in the US, South Korea and Hong Kong.
Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, Christopher Pyne, said the partnership would strengthen the nation's startup community.
"Accelerators are an important component of the ecosystem and boost the skills of participating startups through training, mentoring and exposure to investor networks," he said.
"MassChallenge, a non-profit that takes no equity in the start-ups, has a proven model that has graduated 835 alumni since 2010, raised $1.1 billion in funding, generated over $520 million in revenue and created 6500 jobs.
"That is the kind of opportunity we want to create for startups here in Australia whilst also helping upskill the Australian innovation ecosystem."
MassChallenge awards more than $1 million annually to startups which are accepted into its program, with corporate sponsorships and donations covering the cost of prize money and its operating expenses.
The MassChallenge program allows startups to upscale their skills and access funding for growth.
The organisation does not take any equity from participants and offers startups resources from free office space to mentoring, as well as workshops and access to global networks.
Kara Shurmantine, Senior Director, Global Partnerships with MassChallenge, said Australia was an exciting market for the accelerator program.
Ã¢ï¿½ï¿½Along with the Australian Government and Microsoft, MassChallenge is excited to support the highest-impact entrepreneurs in Australia to help boost the innovation economy across the country,Ã¢ï¿½ï¿½ she said.
Ã¢ï¿½ï¿½We will also work to connect entrepreneurs and the wider ecosystem with our global network across the US, Europe, Israel, Latin America, and beyond.
Ã¢ï¿½ï¿½This allows us to gain a valuable connection to the thriving startup scene in Australia and weÃ¢ï¿½ï¿½re looking forward to working with key players here to exchange best practices and help the ecosystem to flourish.Ã¢ï¿½ï¿½
Microsoft Australia Managing Director Pip Marlow also applauded the initiative.
Ã¢ï¿½ï¿½Microsoft Australia is delighted to be the founding partner for MassChallenge in Australia,Ã¢ï¿½ï¿½ she said. Ã¢ï¿½ï¿½This announcement continues a long association between MassChallenge and Microsoft globally, and is a further step in our Ã¢ï¿½ï¿½Joined-Up InnovationÃ¢ï¿½ï¿½ campaign to help build a stronger innovation ecosystem in Australia.Ã¢ï¿½ï¿½